Smashed Avocado in Melbourne
Melburnians love their cafés. Coffee is serious business and going out for breakfast is a regular habit. They also love property and talking about housing. Prime-time television is dominated by renovation reality shows, housing prices are a national obsession, and owning your own home is the Great Australian Dream. But who would have thought that the worlds of property and brunch would collide?
It all started with the humble smashed ‘avo’ (Australians also love an abbreviation). Avocado on toast is a café-menu staple in Melbourne, and is spreading across the world. I usually like my smashed avo simple, but this morning it was pimped up with alfalfa sprouts, poached egg, pomegranate seeds, coriander oil, pine nuts, and a tomato relish.
Recently, a baby-boomer columnist went on a rant about hipster cafés—with their milk crate seating, loud music, and small menu font. But the point that caused the most controversy was his claim that smashed avocado toast—at AUS$22 ($16) a pop—was the reason millennials were still renting. He advised them to stop eating out and whinging about house prices and start saving for a deposit. He suggested they stay home and make their own avocado on toast. He kicked off inter-generational warfare; baby boomers versus millennials. The millennials retaliated online with posts, tweets, and articles. Cafés dropped their smashed avo prices in solidarity with their customers. The smashed avo affair was even mentioned in an Australian Senate hearing.
Some commentators delighted in correcting the columnist’s math. Even foregoing smashed avo a couple of times a week, they said, would not amount to a house deposit in inner city Melbourne. The suburb in which I’m eating my smashed avo has a median house price of AUS$875,000 (over 10 times the average Australian salary). Melbourne has one of the lowest housing affordability rates in the world, and prices keep on rising.
When I asked the café owner for his thoughts on the matter, he mentioned that people spending money on drinking, smoking, and gambling was probably more of a problem than people spending money on smashed avo. But of course, he would say that.